Lately there has been A LOT of snow in Tenerife, so much so that I have had people writing to me very worried that their holiday in the sun in Tenerife is going to be more about snowmen than sandmen.
I am here to put your mind at ease.
Yes, there is snow in Tenerife right now, and yes, the snow is just as cold there as anywhere else. However, the good news is that it tends to stay up high in the mountains, and covering Mount Teide, Teide National Park and some of the villages and towns like Vilaflor that are much higher up than the coastal resorts.
This means that the beach resorts are sunny with temperatures still somewhere between around 18 degrees and 22 degrees depending on where you are. You could actually go up the mountains in the morning, build a snowman, and come back down to the beach after lunch, and sunbathe (and maybe build a sandman).
So, pack your gloves and your swimwear and go out and discover the best of what Tenerife can offer. Of course, you could always make some woollen bikinis, and swimming shorts to take with you just in case 😉
If the word “˜camping’ brings to mind nightmarish childhood memories of being forced to sleep in a cramped leaky tent in Wales for a week when all your friends were at Disneyland, then you might very well wonder why anyone would ever choose or even want to go camping.
Camping on Tenerife is a completely different experience ““ dark threatening clouds are replaced by twinkling night skies, muddy fields replaced by fragrant pine forests and soggy sandwiches replaced by sizzling barbecues.
Why go camping in Tenerife?
In today’s world where you’re constantly bombarded with futile Facebook status updates and trivial Tweets, it’s nice to be able to completely switch off from the online world. If it’s not Facebook or Twitter constantly in your face, it’s your online calendar letting you know that you’re 30 minutes late for that really important meeting and your extended deadline that you promised you’d make flew by last week.
Fortunately, you won’t find any WiFi hotspots in the campsites in Tenerife ““ you probably won’t even have mobile phone coverage ““ making it the best place to unwind and leave your responsibilities behind for a least a couple of days.
The best part of camping ““ and the only reason I go back again and again ““ is the food. Huddling around an open-flame barbecue with a glass of sangria, the smell mojo-marinated chicken gliding through the air gets me every time. Don’t forget to take marshmallows ““ a camping trip doesn’t count unless there are toasted (or burnt) marshmallows dripping molten goo all over your hands.
Where can I go camping in Tenerife?
If you don’t have any of the equipment, you’ll need to take a trip to Decathlon in La Laguna. From April to September you’ll find a large portion of the sports shop dedicated to camping equipment ““ this is the best time to get everything you’ll ever need in one place.
I recommend getting as large a tent as you can afford ““ you’ll really appreciate the extra space. Try and grab a mini gas hob, too ““ they’re great for cups of tea and coffee first thing in the morning. An inflatable mattress will be a lot more comfortable than the forest floor. Don’t think you can make do with a pool inflatable ““ you’ll wish you hadn’t and your back won’t let you forget it. When you’re all kitted out, you’re ready to choose the campsite that’s right for you.
All of the government-run campsites are located in forestal areas throughout Tenerife. You can . Whilst the amenities do vary, most campsites provide running water, a recreational area complete with barbecue pits, and toilets ““ although whether you’ll want to use them or not is up to you as they are usually nothing more than ceramic-lined holes in the ground. Some campsites even offer small bars, showers, and children’s play areas, so it’s definitely worth doing your research before you head off.
How can I go camping in Tenerife?
You need to obtain permission if you want to camp in Tenerife. There are rangers patrolling the areas that will ask to see your permit and will happily kick you off if you haven’t got one, so avoid the hassle and make sure you’ve got permission to camp before you go.
You need to go to an Oficina de Registro y Servicio al Ciudadano (Registry and Citizen Service Office) ““ you can find a list of them all here ““ and request a username and password which will allow you to obtain permission to camp. You’ll need to take your residencia and passport with you to complete this process.
Once all your details have been tapped into the computer, you’ll get a sheet of paper with your username and password which will allow you to log on to www.Tenerife.es. Through this website you can book all your camping trips online and print off the permits seconds later.
So that’s it, you’ve got the gear, packed the marshmallows and have your permit tucked safely away ready to brandish when faced with an inquisitive forest ranger. All that remains is to take to head into the hills to make friends with Tenerife’s wild side of life.
Dr Day’s research about the collapse of the Cumbre Vieja on La Palma caused an eruption of its own when it was published nearly ten years ago. Last week Dr Day and volcanologists from more than 50 countries were at the Casino Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz for the Cities on Volcanoes Conference (COV6) ““ an international forum about managing volcanic risks. As home to one of the World’s decade volcanoes,Tenerife was the perfect choice for the conference. With temperatures soaring to heights which added a sense of ‘being there’ to slideshows of molten lava, Mount Teide rising above the Orotava Valley added a sublime finishing touch.
Whilst experts debated how to reduce risks from volcanic eruptions, there were presentations ranging from topics whose very titles could make your head spin like “˜Plagioclase zoning as an indicator of magma processes’ to ones of more general interest based around the beneficial aspects of living beside volcanoes, especially from a tourism point of view. These were full of fascinating snippets.
A presentation on innovative tourism demonstrated that the scenery in the Teide Crater really is out of this world ““ the Culann Patera Volcano (a name straight out of Star Trek) on Jupiter’s moon Io is the intergalactic double of Mount Teide. Another about volcanoes and adventure tourism informed delegates that Yellowstone National Park have a fascinating book about how people have died in the park which apparently includes someone who went scuba diving in a boiling hot spring.
As well as speeches and presentations there was an art exhibition with a volcanic theme, not always obvious, and a display of local schoolchildren’s paintings.
During the conference I met up with Dr Simon Day and asked him about a big chunk of La Palma going scuba diving.
Not a lot has changed since he published his findings. The Cumbre Vieja remains stable which some equate to being safe. “It’s only safe in the same way that driving along a winding road at 50 mph in dry conditions is safe,’ he explained. ‘Drive along the same road in wet conditions at the same speed and it’s no longer safe. There hasn’t been an eruption in that time, but it’s what happens then that makes the situation unsafe.”
When there is one the land mass becomes less stable and potentially moves. This is what happened in 1949 when, following an eruption, part of the western flank of the island slipped about 13 feet.
“It might not be the next eruption, or the one after that, but every time it happens and the Cumbre Vieja moves, it becomes more unstable. Eventually it will detach and slide into the sea,” Dr Day told me with unflinching conviction.
Becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of being engulfed by a mega-tsunami when this happens, I asked about the chances of it falling into the sea gradually so that the impact is negligible as suggested by some. His answer was simple, yet compelling.
“It’s never happened that way before.”
There have been dozens of landslides triggered by eruptions and every one of them has gone in one big chunk. It’s a fact that is hard to argue with and one that demanded another question. When could it happen?
At this point it’s essential to separate reality from sensationalist newspaper headlines. When scientists talk about events, their timelines are different from yours and mine. They talk about centuries the way we talk about years. It’s impossible to predict when Mother Nature is going to throw one, but when Dr Simon Day states that a piece of La Palma is going to fall into the sea, he doesn’t mean tomorrow, next year, or even next century. To put it into perspective, the closest I could pin him down to was that he believed if he returned in ten thousand years, La Palma won’t be as big as it is now.
And therein lay part of the aim of COV6; to learn more about living with volcanoes is to understand them better and remove the fear that sensationalist reporting can awaken.
“Worry more about crossing the road,” is Dr Day’s reassuring advice to those of us who live on these volcanic islands.
It’s an urban jungle out there in Santa Cruz. Like any other sprawling capital city, juggling changing infrastructure, environmental needs and transport demands is a constant strain. Now there is a new breed of green hero about to weave its way onto the scene, roll forward Tempus, the new Hybrid bus being test driven around Santa Cruz by TITSA.
It’s always worth a schoolboy snigger or two when you first see or hear the name TITSA but it stands for Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife S.A (similar to LTD ) and the Cabildo (government) owned company has been king of the Tenerife roads for 32 years. The company employs 1,700 staff, has just over 600 buses and has recently announced plans to invest 12,284 million euros on 69 new vehicles of varying sizes.
So what’s so special about the new kid on the block? Tempus was unveiled at SALT (Salon Atlantico de la Logistica y Transporte) 2010 in the Santa Cruz Recinto Ferial. For starters Tempus has two engines, one a conventional diesel but the other electric and connected to the rear wheels to handle traction. That all sounds impressive but the real bonus is that when the electric engine takes over from the diesel, it reduces fuel consumption and produces 30 % less CO2.
These buses are specifically designed for the exacting task of driving in urban areas where it’s all stop start as they negotiate junctions, tight turns, loads of pick up points, and in Tenerife the inevitable horn blasting impatient drivers. The model on display at SALT was invitingly bearing its eco friendly soul for all to see. Using recycling and reusable materials it still manages to be comfortable with 17 seats and room for a wheel chair via the fold out ramps. Tempus promises to be quieter than the old fleet, adding to the stealthy service of the trams that it will compete against on routes in La Laguna and Santa Cruz.
Topping up the electric motor couldn’t be simpler, just plug it in overnight and it’s ready to roll again the next day. For the technically minded, the Siemens traction system uses a 150 kw current generator backed with two power converters and two in wheel motors of 67 kw each.
If the trials go well, expect to see more of these smooth newcomers hitting the road, they have a lot of people to please. Last year TITSA carried 42,000,000 passengers and the capital city is by far the busiest area with trams, taxis, cars and bikes all looking for the best way from A to B. Look out for Tempus coming to a bus stop near you soon, making its own jolly green giant strides for innovation.
Dunking a wedge of bread into the fat oozing from my mum’s Sunday roast is as far as I ever got into recycling cooking oil. Times have changed and giving us a good old greasy fry up is no longer the end of the story for our liquid friend. Reciclar Canarias are one of several companies across Tenerife collecting used oil from all the bars and kitchens that churn out our favourite foods. Taking a deep breath I plunged into the green world of their Marazul factory expecting to find a greasy swamp buzzing with flies. The reality is a slick operation with hardly a whiff or a cremated chip in sight.
John Sommers has been running Reciclar for the last year and they now collect from 300 outlets around Tenerife including hotel chains, fast food outlets and theme parks. “I could see there was a demand for biodiesel and bio fuel with prices rising all the time and legal demands for businesses to dispose of their used oil in a responsible way. Since 2000 there has been a legal requirement to bars, restaurants etc to have an authorised waste collector.”
Sadly Tenerife is lagging behind some countries in the recycling process, as yet there is no facility here to turn the oil into useable fuel. Reciclar purifies and filters it before sending it on to mainland Europe by boat for the full process to take place. So what is the difference between bio fuel and biodiesel? “Bio fuel is purer but biodiesel undergoes a chemical treatment involving methanol and a catalyst under heat to separate off glycerine.”
As I poke around the 1,000 litre vats of treated oil, soon to be replaced by 10,000 litre holders, a new collection comes in and I’m promised that as I watch the filtering process it will put me off fried food for good ““ they don’t know my appetite very well. For some reason I can’t help thinking of chocolate as the oily gunge spurts into its bath, raking through it soon leaves a residue of crispy remnants ““ anyone for crackling? This solid waste is bio degradable and easily disposed of.
The possibilities of recycled fuel are immense and as John points out many motorists will already be using some biodiesel. “You can see it now at the pumps as B5, B10 and B20, the numbers refer to the percentage of biodiesel mixed in with the more conventional product. Already here we could probably produce enough fuel to run all the taxis in Arona or Adeje. Cars can be fairly easily converted to biofuel (if they are diesel, they can already take biodiesel) for anything up to 1,000 pounds for a large car, that depends on if you have a full system or a twin tank which means you use ordinary fuel to get going and the biodiesel kicks in after about 5 minutes.”
It seems the way forward, certainly in Tenerife, is a willingness and commitment from the councils and government to embrace recycled fuels and produce it on a large scale. The big oil companies are of course less than happy with this idea so it could be a long process. In the meantime maybe we can do our bit by tucking into as much oil cooked food as possible, I’m on the case immediately.
Reciclar Canarias is based at Unit 2 at the Texaco station in Marazul between Callao Salvaje and Abama Golf. Tel 922724169 email@example.com